Gilbert Melki

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Intimate Strangers Review


Excellent
Seeking therapy is one thing; this is something else. What starts out as a therapy session gone wrong because of a mistaken door is really a study in purposeful cinematic misdirection to create a case of sexual intrigue capable of raising eyebrows in its country of origin. It's also the French answer to Steven Shainberg's 2002 adventure into obsession, Secretary.

William Faber (Fabrice Luchini) inherited his office and accounting practice in a staid Parisian building from his accountant father, carrying on a family occupation. Life for him is methodical, predictable, full of numbers -- which he enjoys enough to have made a career out of crunching them for a loyal clientele. Some people thrive on consistency and repetition.

Continue reading: Intimate Strangers Review

Changing Times Review


Good
A man is buried under a heap of mud and dirt within the first five minutes of Andre Techine's Changing Times. It's not quite a mudslide since it's not on any sort of angle, but it piles on a man until a group of workers have to dive into the hole to dig him out. Not surprisingly, this event punctuates the subdued surreal nature of the film.

Antoine (Gérard Depardieu) has a nice job. He oversees construction for a company who builds media centers all over the world, using his skills as an engineer and a negotiator to keep projects rolling. These skills were not used to his advantage earlier in his life when he dated Cécile (Catherine Deneuve), who now makes her living as a radio show host and a wife to Nathan (Gilbert Melki), a renowned doctor. Fate, as it tends to do, intervenes (interferes) and sends Antoine to Tangiers, where Cécile lives. At the same time, Cécile and Nathan's son Sami (Malik Zidi) and his partner Nadia (Lubna Azabal) come home for vacation time. By vacation, they actually mean for Sami to visit his secret boyfriend and for Nadia to visit her sister, Aïcha (Lubna again). The film mainly pivots on Antoine's quest to get Cécile back, which begins as gazing from afar and eventually becomes family interaction.

Continue reading: Changing Times Review

Cote D'azur Review


Good
If a cool upscale French family invited you to spend the summer at their charming chateau on the Riviera, you'd go, right? So would I. That's the promise of Cote D'Azur: a funny, sexy, and very French diversion that's as weightless as a Mediterranean breeze.

Dad Marc (Gilbert Melki) and Mom Béatrix (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) have brought their two teenage children Laura (Sabrina Seyvecou) and Charly (Romain Torres) to the family manse for another seaside summer. Laura soon takes off for Portugal on the back of her boyfriend's motorcycle, leaving Charly alone. To liven things up, he invites his best friend Martin (Edouard Collin) to join in on the vacation fun. Cue the sexual hijinks.

Continue reading: Cote D'azur Review

Swindled Review


OK
I love me a good con man movie. I love 'em right up. And while Spanish director Miguel Bardem's Swindled has most of the elements you need to create a movie that earns the film's title, it still doesn't reach the rarified air of classics like House of Games or even near-classics like Nine Queens, another Spanish-language con game that had you guessing until the final scene.

Start with the good: The first of two exciting stars, the elder statesman of Spanish cinema, Federico Luppi (Cronos), as the elder statesman of the Spanish con game. Happenstance brings him Ernesto (Ernesto Alterio), a small-time crook who joins with Federico to pull off the heist of their lives. The musky Victoria Abril, Federico's (improbable) ex-lover and the other highlight of the movie, stumbles into the scene with even bigger ideas. Before long they've concocted a scam that could net them millions.

Continue reading: Swindled Review

Intimate Strangers Review


Excellent
Seeking therapy is one thing; this is something else. What starts out as a therapy session gone wrong because of a mistaken door is really a study in purposeful cinematic misdirection to create a case of sexual intrigue capable of raising eyebrows in its country of origin. It's also the French answer to Steven Shainberg's 2002 adventure into obsession, Secretary.

William Faber (Fabrice Luchini) inherited his office and accounting practice in a staid Parisian building from his accountant father, carrying on a family occupation. Life for him is methodical, predictable, full of numbers -- which he enjoys enough to have made a career out of crunching them for a loyal clientele. Some people thrive on consistency and repetition.

Continue reading: Intimate Strangers Review

Monsieur Ibrahim Review


Good
Because this story is so intent on making the adoption of a young Jewish boy by an older Muslim man plausible, characters and situation had to be contrived to clear away logical and cultural impediments. Despite questions of credibility, director François Depeyron achieves more of what he aimed to do than his underwritten screenplay would seem to justify.

He gives us a Paris neighborhood for the underclass, a place where prostitutes take up their posts along the street and where young Moses (Pierre Boulanger in a first time role) watches them ply their trade from his modest apartment where he lives with his father (Gilbert Melik). Instead of wanting the latest board game or bicycle he's seen in a store, this 13-year old develops a strong hankering for one of the women on the street. Driven by hormonal awakenings, he breaks open his piggy bank and bravely offers what it contained to the lady of his dreams. She turns him down, but he's taken for deflowering by another streetwalker with a more generous attitude.

Continue reading: Monsieur Ibrahim Review

The Ice Rink (La Patinoire) Review


OK

A lightly and fondly sarcastic, self-irreverent mockery of movie making, "The Ice Rink" ("La Patinoire") takes place behind the scenes on a location shoot for a inflated French art film trying to wrap production in time to qualify for the Venice Film Festival.

All we're told about the film-within-a-film is that it's a sports opus and romantic tragedy (!) about a hockey goalie and a beautiful girl who dies in his arms after being shot in the back while skating towards him in a ball gown (a scene that is shot over and over with a hairy-chested stunt man as her double).

"Sudden death (overtime) is a metaphor for Europe's predicament," insists the movie's frustrated director (Tom Novembre), who desperately holds his project together through a Murphy's Law deluge of semi-sophisticated slapstick disasters.

Continue reading: The Ice Rink (La Patinoire) Review

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